The Killing of Bobbi Lomax, by Cal Moriarty, Faber, RRP £12.99, 335 pages
Crime fiction aficionados are in luck right now — barely a month seems to pass without a first-time novelist arriving fully formed, with all the authority of older hands. The latest is Cal Moriarty, who centres her debut on an unassuming book-lover who may also be an ingenious murderer. Clark Houseman comes to the attention of Moriarty’s tenacious detectives Sinclair and Alvarez when bombs go off in the US city of Abraham, killing the eponymous Bobbi Lomax and a man named Peter Gudsen. The survivor is Houseman, who turns out to be a skilled forger of literary signatures and, like Lomax and Gudsen, to have belonged to a sinister sect, The Faith. Moriarty’s novel is a blistering examination of both the criminal mind and the dark secrets that lie within America’s Bible Belt.
Black Run, by Antonio Manzini, Fourth Estate, RRP £12.99, 255 pages
Forget the warm sun of Sicily and get ready for a blast of cold wind from the Italian Alps. The ranks of impressive novelists in the Euro Noir genre is further swelled by the gritty Antonio Manzini, whose Black Run may sport subscriptions from Schiller and Mayakovsky, but underlines its literary credentials with a diamond-hard superstructure of the most uncompromising crime writing. Here we meet Commissario Rocco Schiavone, corrupt but efficient. Rocco seems to have been knowingly designed as a corrosive antidote to Andrea Camilleri’s Inspector Montalbano; he is a far tougher and less companionable Italian copper, stuck in exile in a parochial Alpine town which he hates, longing for his much-missed Rome. And the appearance of a mutilated corpse has him juggling grim possibilities: crime of passion? Mafia punishment? In an excellent translation by Antony Shugaar, this is lacerating stuff.